Origins of the Apple Human Interface - part 11

From: Shirl <shirlgato_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 07:25:46 -0600

Q: [Inaudible]

LARRY TESLER: The question is, the user testing we showed for the Lisa had to do with novice users, and the question was whether we tested for how people acculturated over time. Well, the system, remember, from the very first page of the user interface guidelines Bill wrote was targeted at novice users. That was the target, which was about everybody in those days. And we did have some theories about how people would use command keys as they got more expert and so on, but we didn't run user tests. One reason we didn't was because it would have taken a long time to get people up to speed. So what we did was, we just used kind of ourselves. I don't mean the engineers, but people who worked in the Lisa division, who had Lisas, like people in Product Marketing. They became expert after a while, and they would start telling us that things were too slow, or too hard, or whatever. And that's how we got that kind of feedback, just from people inside. I think it's more relevant today to check for those sort of things than it was back then, when everybody was -- you know, 95 percent of the people were novices.

CHRIS ESPINOSA: One of the constant tensions, and this was true on the Macintosh as well, especially because we had the benefit of the Lisa work before us, and some of the Lisa machines, the constant tension is that people who are designing are almost always by definition expert users, and will often overlook that what they think is obvious is not at all obvious to a novice user. And so there's constantly the dilemma which you've seen historically in Mac system software, that the expert users want to put in the features they want to use, but the people who want to keep the system pure for the novices want to resist those, and if you're lucky you get a system that is easy to approach for the novice, and gradually unfolds itself for the expert. And if you're unlucky you get a lukewarm mediocrity between the two, where it's a little too complex for the beginning user to understand, but still not nearly powerful enough for the expert user. And some of our designs, and some of the industry designs, have been gradually unfolding, and other have been just plain mediocre.

Q: I have an observation and then a question. Larry and I have known each other for years, from Xerox days. And it's interesting to me that, for one thing, you folks weren't aware of the similarity to the Wordstar commands that already existed, in the Wordstar editor, for Copy, Cut, Paste kind of things. But also I think the word "assumption" is key and what you just said is very correct. People assume as they're developing something that they know the best way to develop it, rather than go outside and get other information. One of the things that I've seen as a software person in the past, having to do work for people for money, so that they expect us to have something done by a certain time, not for a company that I'm working for but as a consultant, is that they really do expect the thing to work the way their people want it to work. And there you really have to do a design review, and all sorts of things with those people first before you get to the right setup, before you can actually start writing code. And one observation about the Lisa that was very interesting, when I first saw it -- I first saw it, I think, at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. Steve Jobs was there, I don't know who else from Apple was there, other than Marketing staff. But I'd gone there with a friend from Xerox. And we looked at the Star system. And we'd actually looked at the Fortune system, which was the first 16-bit personal computer that was available. And they had a very fancy display, and so forth, and everybody was looking at it; it was beautifully designed, and everything. Everything else that it ran CPM and UNIX, a version of sort of UNIX. There was one test in the software work that we had done, for real customers, who really wanted reliable software, that we'd accidentally come upon which was called the "keyboard mush." You take your hand and you run it across the keyboard a few times, and you see if your software is still running. [Laughs] And I told this friend of mine from Xerox about it. So he walks over to the Fortune system, on the big podium up there, with the pretty girls standing by it, and he tries it. And the thing dies. So we kind of sneak away, and we go over to the Apple booth, and there's Steve and the other folks there. And we decided we weren't going to try it on a Lisa. So in reaching for a brochure, though, I accidentally touched the upper right portion of the Lisa keyboard. They were networked at the show, for a demonstration of networking. It brought down that Lisa. The guy helped me try to reboot it. It wouldn't come back. It also brought down all the other machines at the booth, on the network. And the only thing we finally could do was to power cycle the whole system. [Laughs] So I just wanted to bring that out. I just wanted to bring out the basic nature of testing, which involved looking for the unforeseen.

LARRY TESLER: Ah., looking for the unforeseen. Right. Good point. In the interests of time, we're going to keep the comments shorter, though.

Q: Do you see any relationship between [inaudible] and the graphical user interface [inaudible]?

LARRY TESLER: Yes. The question is whether there's some correspondence between the object oriented programming metaphor and the user interface metaphor. And yes, there is. In fact, in the Smalltalk user interface, which was one of the first of this type, and the Smalltalk language, which was one of the first of the object oriented type, the connection was very explicit: that you had objects that had generic commands that could operate upon them. And that was something that existed both in the language and in the user interface. Which was done even more so in the Star. But the programmers who were doing these user interfaces definitely had that in mind, as a correspondence.

Q: [Inaudible] a comment on the first [inaudible] counterexamples [inaudible] user interfaces before their time. Graphical user interfaces that had nothing to do with object oriented programming languages.

LARRY TESLER: Oh, yeah, good user interfaces don't have to, I'm just saying that the user interfaces that we were developing, we had that in mind. But that doesn't mean that a good user interface has to be object oriented, no.

Q: You showed two years of memos that you had written and received. Having come from an environment with the Alto, Bravo, Gypsy and [inaudible], what did you write all those on?

LARRY TESLER: What did I use to write the memos? Probably Apple Writer. let's see, early on we were using -- maybe Apple Writer on the Apple II, or maybe UCSD Pascal program editor being abused on an Apple II. I never had an Apple III.

CHRIS ESPINOSA: You're right, you were probably using either Apple Writer on an Apple II, or sophisticated people used the UCSD Pascal editor and output it using an NROFF-like program called Apple Script [LARRY TESLER: Right] and we output it to Qume printers when we could afford the time and noise, and to dot matrix printers, 80-column dot matrix printers, and you had a mix of those two. Before we got the Apple II's and Apple III's up, Jef Raskin had imbued us with Polymorphic Poly 88's, using their editing system, and we did all of our editing on Poly 88's, Soroc terminals.

Q. Back in the, probably 1983-1984 time frame, Digital Research had a graphic interface called GEM. That sort of got buried in litigation of some sort. Can you comment on that whole story from Apple's side, and speculate on what might have happened if Digital Research didn't [inaudible] part?

LARRY TESLER: Well, I don't know about successfully competing in that part. But yeah, it was extremely close to the Mac user interface, the GEM user interface by Digital Research. And Apple sent some kind of complaint letter, and there were some discussions between the companies. But then Microsoft and Hewlett Packard started doing Windows and New Wave, and that was a much bigger issue, so Apple kind of stopped bothering Digital Research and instead got involved in a big law suit with HP and Microsoft. Digital Research at the time was kind of a struggling company, and Apple didn't want to basically pick on a little company. Instead, we picked on two companies that were too big [laughter] instead of picking on one that was too little. Bernard?

LisaList is sponsored by <> and...

Shop and save. <>

      Support Low End Mac <>

LisaList info:          <>

--> AOL users, remove "mailto:"
Send list messages to: <mailto:lisalist_at_email.domain.hidden> To unsubscribe, email: <mailto:lisalist-off_at_email.domain.hidden> For digest mode, email: <mailto:lisalist-digest_at_email.domain.hidden> Subscription questions: <mailto:listmom_at_email.domain.hidden> Archive: <> iPod Accessories for Less at 1-800-iPOD.COM Fast Delivery, Low Price, Good Deal
Received on 2005-05-11 06:34:06

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : 2020-01-13 12:15:19 EST